Thank you for another great season at our CSA! It has been a fun year with lots of interesting weather patterns which caused some crops to struggle and others to grow in plenty.
As first year Apprentices and Farm Hands, we truly thank all of you for your commitment to this farm and for all of the hard work each of you puts in to make it successful. Having a community that supports local agriculture and a healthy organic way of life is truly something to be thankful for. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!
As we do at the end of each season, there will be a survey coming out soon – please look for that in your inbox and please take time to share your thoughts with us. We use this information as we balance the goals of the farm, Moose Hill, and Mass Audubon in our planning for next year, and this is your chance to help us in that planning.
We look forward to next season and are aiming to have the CSA Summer of 2019 on sale in early November (shares make an excellent holiday gift…hint, hint..).
As you are receiving an abundance of some certain crops here these last few days of distribution, we wanted to offer up some storage tips to make the food last and some recipes.
Butternut Squash Soup:
Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. In large pot melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove squash chunks with slotted spoon and place in a blender and puree. Return blended squash to pot. Stir and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve.
Potatoes:Should be stored in a dark, well ventilated, dry area away from other fruits and vegetables and at a cool room temperature. Potatoes emit ethylene gas which can cause other fruits and veggies such as onions to spoil faster so place them in their own drawer, cabinet, etc.
Popcorn: Air: Hang the corn in a dark and cool location until they are dried. Could be over a month. You also can spread them on a flat surface if you do not have room to hang them.
For the those of you who want to try some different methods for drying, cooking, etc., I found a good video here(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AS-DRROMj3M) of someone who tried some experimenting with it and showed his results. He tried a few methods of drying including on and off the cob, in the oven, and using a dehydrator.
Microwave: Very simple and easy..Simply microwave 1/4 cup of kernels in a small brown lunch paper bag. Make sure the bag is closed and folded over 3 or 4 times and firmly crease the seam so that it stays closed. No need to add any oil to the kernels as this won’t make much difference. If you wish to add more kernels, use a larger paper shopping bag.
Microwave for 2 – 4 minutes. Listen closely — when the time between pops slows to about 2 seconds, your popcorn is ready. Depending on your microwave, popping can finish in as little as 2 minutes or take as long as 4 minutes. Do not wait for all the kernels to pop; your popcorn will burn. It’s normal for there to be un-popped kernels in the bag.
Add some melted butter or oil and sprinkle with salt when finished cooking.
Yields: 2 servings Cook time: 10 minutes
3 Tbsp coconut, peanut, or canola oil (high smoke point oil)
1/3 cup of popcorn kernels
1 3-quart covered saucepan
1 Tbsp or more (to taste) of butter (optional)
Salt to taste
1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart thick-bottomed saucepan on medium high heat. If you are using coconut oil, allow all of the solid oil to melt.
2. Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil.
3 When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds.
This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.
4 Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner.
Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper).
Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.
With this technique, nearly all of the kernels pop, and nothing burns.
5 If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the now empty, but hot pan. Note that if you let the butter get just a little bit brown, it will add an even more intense, buttery flavor to the butter and to your popcorn. (Here’s more info on how to brown butter.) Just drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and toss to distribute.
Did it seem like the tomatoes were here and gone before you knew it? Unfortunately our tomato season was cut a little short because of a bacterial spot that caused them to get sick and die much quicker than we wanted.
On the bright side of things, we were lucky enough to get an extra planting of summer squash and zucchini that has lasted longer than usual.
However, spinach was planted but it failed to germinate so we will not see that this fall. Our most recent planting of corn struggled as well as August was a particularly dry month (hard to believe with our rainy September).
But, as the season begins to wind down for us, we have an abundance of sweet potatoes coming your way in addition to our most beloved winter squash varieties, AND a final planting of beans.
We will have pick your own herbs and flowers and cherry tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes will be slim pickings, but they are still out there for the determined picker!
As the season is winding down, be sure to complete your required work hours. you can sign up by following this link to the sign-up genius. If you are interested in buying out of your hours, send an email to email@example.com letting us know and we can give you more details. Currently it looks as though we will be able to extend our season into the first week of October.
With the seasons changing we are starting to say goodbye to some crops while also welcoming the additions of some seasonal favorites:
Tomatoes (mostly Roma)
Winter Squash (mostly acorn)
We are continuing with pick your own including:
The Buy-A-Bucket program is officially over.
As the season is winding down, be sure to complete your required work hours. you can sign up by following this link to the sign-up genius. Currently it looks as though we will be able to extend our season into the first week of October.
Also as the season comes to an end keep an eye out for the end of season survey. We would love to hear back as much input as possible to help our program grow and change into the best possible.
As the hustle and bustle of summer camp ends on this last day of August and we begin to transition into a new season, it always seems so quiet here on the hill. But don’t worry, there is still a lot to do in September and hopefully the cooler breezes of Autumn will be upon us!
Here are a few things to explore at Moose Hill throughout September – we look forward to seeing you on the trails and at programs!
Moose Hill Walkers – join Patti on Mondays for a walk on our trails as we watch autumn arrive at Moose Hill. This is a great way to learn more about our trails for future explorations on your own – you can register for the series (the best deal!) or pay each time you come along.
Knee High Naturalists – want your 3-5 year old to have a little more nature in their day? Miss Patti and our youngest naturalists will explore Moose Hill – each week will have a new nature- or science-related theme.
September 8: Mt. Watatic Hawk Watch – Join Stony Brook sanctuary director Doug Williams for our annual pilgrimage to North Central Massachusetts for a chance to observe some of the thousands of hawks that migrate south through the area each fall. If you have never been on a hike with Doug, you have missed out! Not only will we observe hawks but, as an exceptional naturalist and botanist, you will learn a bit about the northern hardwood and hemlock forest along the way.
September 15: Star Gazing Night – if you have never joined us for this FREE program for all, you have been missing out! We’re already watching the forecast and hoping for clear skies.
September 20 and 27: Birding the Farm Fields – Join Vin Zollo as we look at what birds are taken advantage of the open farm fields during fall migration.
September 26: Nature Nerd Trivia Night – Do you think you know nature? Can we stump you? join us for a fun evening – gather friends to square off against or just come and we will divvy up the tables. Snacks and drinks will be provided for this 21+ event!
Plus, the Farm at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary has a Farm Stand, open on the weekends from 11:00 am-3:00 pm. Get your fresh, organic veggies right here!
Not sure you want to pre-schedule your time? You can always come and enjoy a hike on our trails between 7 am and 7 pm – make sure to have your bug spray, sunscreen, and water! Have younger kids? Bring them for a little unstructured play time in Cookie’s Garden, our nature play area or go for a hike along the UnNatural Trail. Just stop in the Nature Center and our Visitor Services staff will point you in the right direction!
No matter how you spend your time with us at Moose Hill – we look forward to seeing you here, exploring the nature of Massachusetts at our sanctuary!
If you love stuffed peppers but are short on time, this is a great, tasty, and easy recipe that I have been using for years. Here’s how it’s done..
– 3 large green peppers, coarsely chopped
– 1 lb ground beef
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 cups cooked long grain brown or white rice
– 24 oz. pasta sauce
– 1 and 1/2 cups of shredded Italian cheese
– Heat oven to 350 degrees
– Brown meat with garlic and peppers in a large skillet; drain.
– Return meat mixture to skillet; stir in rice, pasta sauce, and 3/4 cup cheese. (vegan cheese also works great with this recipe!)
– spoon in to 2 quart casserole sprayed with cooking spray.
– top with remaining 3/4 cup of cheese.
– Bake for 20-25 minutes.
As many people know, farming isn’t a set formula. Every season, every year brings about familiarity and challenges. While last year finally saw the end of a three year drought, this year the heat, humidity, and heavy downpours that pass as storms lately have brought their own challenges. As always, CSA shareholders share in our challenges and our successes. Here are a few of the things that have challenged us this growing season:
Our first planting of squash and cucumbers:
Took a hard hit from pests like the striped cucumber beetle. Early plantings of Cucurbitaceae (the scientific name for the family of plants including squash, zucchini, and cucumbers) are typically the most susceptible to damage from this pest because they are subject to the feeding of emerging overwintering beetles. Adults feed on the foliage while also laying their eggs on the underside of the leaves. When the eggs hatch, the larva burrow themselves into the ground to feed on the roots. This can be damaging to the crops not only because they are being munched on, but the striped cucumber beetle is also known for spreading diseases such as bacterial wilt and the cucumber mosaic virus; which can cause the slow death of the plant through blockage of water transport and misshapen, discolored, bitter fruits (respectively). Through diligent field scouting by our staff, we were able to spot this problem in enough time to save most of the crop. Our manager called our farming partners at Ward’s to come by and help us out. By using an organic approved spray, the beetles are naturally killed and repelled away. The area that this first planting of Cucurbitaceae occurred also attracted other pests such as woodchuck (you know, our beloved ground hog) that were feeding heavily on our squash and zucchini.
Eggplant and Colorado potato beetle
An early heavy infestation of the Colorado potato beetle (CPB) occurred in our eggplant field early on this year. Our staff, alongside several shareholders, who were all trained on what to look for, worked hard to eradicate the infestation. Armed with gloves, kneepads, and a good sense of humor, every single eggplant in our field was hand inspected and protected by literally crushing the opposition with sheer human force. All CPB eggs, larva, and adults that were found were killed to protect our precious crops from being devoured before we had the chance to do so ourselves. Now we are all enjoying the “fruits of our labor” in the form of eggplant parmesan and baba ghanoush
Broccoli has been tricky for us this year. Our initial planting did not yield nearly as much as we were hoping due to the scorching heat of the early summer combined with an inconsistent rain.
What a growing year for weeds
This year has been the year for a battle against weeds. Conditions have been very favorable for the growth of weeds and this has caused many problems for our crops. Weeds inhibit the growth of our crops by battling them for sunlight and nutrients. Unfortunately, the straw that we lay down between our rows to help prevent growth of weeds has not been sufficient for this years weed growth. This has caused the excessive growth of certain weeds such as different species of Amaranth (also known as pig weed) This weed grows very tall, very fast, and also develops a thick woody stem that is not easily trampled or cut down. To combat our weed problem we run a machine known as a Bachtold, which can be described as similar to a beefed up lawnmower. The Bachtold fits perfectly between crop rows and mows weeds down enough for sunlight to reach our crops. The machine is very heavy and also temperamental, requiring a great level of skill to run successfully. Although effective, this method can also cause some inadvertent damage to crops that may reach out of their row and into our path. In addition to fighting these weeds in active crops such as tomatoes, we are also working very hard to keep our 20 rows of strawberry plants weeded so that we can enjoy their sweetness again next June.
Potato and phytopthera fungus (late blight)
If infection of this fungus is expected through adequate disease forecasting, an organic preventative copper based fungicide can be applied. Phytopthera is a water based mold and therefore thrives in moist conditions. High humidity, like we have been experiencing during our summer here, is beneficial for the growth of this harmful oomycete (water mold). The canoeing of the foliage of potato plant is an early sign of this infection that we were able to recognize with the help of our Farm Manager. After infection has occurred, this can be combated by the removal of the foliage, which can prevent the infection of the tuber itself allowing for harvesting as normal. This year, we ended up harvesting potatoes a bit earlier and we are able to divvy them out at a more reasonable rate for you.
Do you have questions about how some of our other crops are doing? Let us know – we want to share more about our work farming for you. Your commitment to sharing in our challenges and successes is so appreciated. Living healthy, happy, fulfilling lives all starts with what you choose to put into your body. Choosing local organically grown produce is the first and most important step. Although we have our struggles, the fight for organic agriculture is worth the effort. It takes a community to work together to make any farm a success. Being surrounded by a community of caring individuals who are conscious of what they put into their bodies is truly something for us all to be thankful for, and is a constant source of inspiration for us here on the farm. Thank you for your commitment and we look forward to the rest of the season with you all.